Chile declares state of emergency amid student riots
Chile declares state of emergency amid student riots
Chile shuts down capital city metro as violent protests spread Demonstrators protest against the increase in the subway ticket prices in Santiago
21 October, 2019, 00:29
The protests by students began on Monday when hundreds of young people mobbed several subway stations, jumping over or dipping under turnstiles after a 4% increase in subway fares to about 88p - a move officials said was down to rising fuel prices.
"I have declared a state of emergency and, to that end, I have appointed Major General Javier Iturriaga del Campo as head of national defence, in accordance with the provisions of our state of emergency legislation", Al Jazeera quoted Pinera as saying.
Now the subway services are non-operational and a curfew has been put in place in Santiago.
The unrest started as a fare-dodging protest mainly by students against the hike in metro ticket prices, blamed on rising oil prices and a weaker peso.
"I have heard with humility the voice of my compatriots", Mr Pinera said on Saturday before announcing that "we are going to suspend" the fare hike.
There had been several fare-dodging actions in recent days, organized on social media, but the protests escalated Friday, tapping into general discontent among many Chileans.
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She said the government subsidises nearly half the operating costs of the metro, one of Latin America's most modern.
Protests were also reported in the cities of Concepción, Rancagua, Punta Arenas, Valparaíso, Iquique, Antofagasta, Quillota and Talca, according to El Mercurio newspaper.
"Piñera's decision to deploy the military in Chile - a country that experienced a 17-year repressive dictatorship - is troubling and could further destabilize the situation", said Jenny Pribble, associate professor of political science at the University of Richmond.
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Students demonstrate at the entrance of the Bellas Artes metro station on Friday.
Dozens of protesters torched a building belonging to Chile's oldest newspaper El Mercurio in Valparaiso city on Saturday evening, while elsewhere in the port city a metro station, supermarkets and other stores were burned. Many commuters had no choice but to walk home.
But to make things worse, while all the destruction and protests mostly in downtown Santiago and thousands stranded because of the transport chaos, President Piñera was caught on video in a family party, celebrating a grandson's birthday at a pizza parlor in one of Santiago's residential areas, where residents were not aware of the tear gas or rubber bullets.
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